In 1977, some athletes in Hawaii were debating whether runners, swimmers or cyclists were the most fit. John Collins suggested that they hold a triathlon that combined three distance events on Oahu to determine who was the most fit. The one who finished first would be called the “Iron Man.” Fifteen men started the race in February of 1978. This informal event became one of the most famous endurance races in the world. Today, over 170 Ironman triathlons are held each year in scores of countries around the world.
Could you do it? You would start at 7 a.m. with an ocean swim of 2.4 miles. Then you’d immediately bike 112 miles. You’d finish — or should I say what finishes you — is climbing off the bike and running a marathon, 26.2 miles. If you are a top athlete, you would finish the race in less than 12 hours.
What does the Ironman have to do with self-control? In the original language, the word self-control has the nuance of endurance. If you are running the Ironman Triathlon, your desire to quit must be controlled. In 1982, Julie Moss fell just yards short of the finish line. After hours of exertion, she was suffering severe fatigue and dehydration. Yet she crawled the final yards to complete the race.* In some races, just finishing is the victory. Keep this picture in mind to understand self-control.
*”Ironman Triathlon,” Wikipedia, last updated June 24, 2021, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ironman_Triathlon.
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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.